The size and massive architecture of Paquimé (Casas Grandes) in northwestern Chihuahua, Mexico has impressed visitors for centuries, ever since the first Spanish entradas to the area. During the Medio Period, approximately A.D. 1200-1450, this site was one of the major and most influential communities in the Southwest United States and northwest Mexico.
The Joint Casas Grandes Expedition's excavations, guided by the Amerind Foundation and Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia during the mid-20th century, revealed even more impressive archaeological data such as one and a half tons of shell, hundreds of tropical parrots, an amazingly well-designed water system and extraordinary architecture engineering. Yet, to have a fuller understanding of the society – any society, for that matter – we need to look beyond all the glitter and goodies. Study of farming, humble outlying villages, groundstone, turkeys and even barely visible charred plant remains paint a fuller understanding of this remarkable society. Maybe boring isn't really boring after all.